Doug was killed in the bloodiest battle of the Vietnam war, the battle of DakTo, while serving with A company, 1st battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade.
This is the Brigade Combat After Action Reports. It was obtained from The Historical Archives and concerns some of the battles for the DakTo Area, dated 6 Nov thru 23 Nov 1967, that the 173rd Airborne Brigade was involved In. The reports have been edited for punctuation and wording to make them easier to follow, but for the most part are 95% word for word. Suggested reading is the chilling "DakTo, America's Sky Soldiers in the Central Highlands", by Edward F. Murphy, Pocket Books, available from Amazon.Com
Background Information: A/1/503d Inf. had been conducting search and destroy operations in the DakTo area since 6 November and had been in almost continuous contact with the NVA for the past 10 days. The 1/503d Inf. was working in a multi company task force because of known large size NVA forces in the area.
Intelligence: The task force knew they were on the trail of a fair sized enemy force up to Battalion size.
Mission: Search and Destroy.
Concept of the Operation and Execution: A/1/503d Inf. had laagered the night of the 17th in a former NVA bunker and trench system in the vicinity of YB 816174 and had been resupplied by helicopter. The next morning at 0730 hours, A Co moved out towards YB 796153. When the Company arrived in the vicinity of YB 805161 a little after noon, CPT Jesmer held the Company up and sent the 1st Platoon forward to recon Hill 882. The Company formed a perimeter to provide a strong position for the 1st Platoon to fall back to, in case they ran into heavy enemy fire. The Company had received reports that there were suspected enemy on the hill. LT Robinson located his two machine guns in the center of his western facing Platoon so that they would be mutually supporting and cover both approaching trails. The Platoon was fully armed with its basic load of ammunition. The NVA opened up with heavy sniper fire, automatic weapons fire, machine guns, mortars, rifle grenades and rockets. The 1st Platoon counted 12 automatic weapons firing on them, besides intense sniper fire from the trees. A 50 caliber machine gun was also heard firing. The NVA were grouping into twenty or thirty men and rushing the perimeter in bounds trying to locate the paratroopers' positions. When they opened up and maneuvered, the Sky Soldiers returned their fire. The NVA soldiers were camouflaged very effectively over their entire body and were often very difficult to see unless moving, especially in the heavy undergrowth.
At about 1630 hrs, SGT Baum, a 1st Platoon squad leader, was hit. SP4 Dyer, Medic, came to his aid and was hit in the leg himself. He drug SGT Baum to a near by tree where Dyer was shot in the head by a sniper and killed instantly. LT Robinson tried three different times to go back out and save SGT Baum, he was wounded each of the three times. On his third attempt, LT Robinson called to SGT Baum and Baum opened his eyes and warned LT Robinson, "For God Sakes Lieutenant, don't come out here, there is a machine gun behind the tree !" and he gestured behind the tree. SGT Baum died trying to crawl back to the perimeter, he had been shot seven times.
And that is the story of Doug Baum.
Scott H. Smith
Vets Helping Vets
173rd Airborne Brigade [Separate]
'67 - '68